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Middleport library has new name, but its mission to serve remains

The 83-year-old institution has a different name, newly established, solid financial backing and extended hours, but its purpose remains the same: to serve all ages, from all walks of life, in a free and welcoming atmosphere.

The Royalton Hartland Community Library, formerly known as the Middleport Free Library, has been rechartered as an "association district library" by the state Department of Education.

The rechartering was accomplished last month by a public vote after residents overwhelmingly approved a permanent tax levy to raise $103,000 per year to fund the library. This adds roughly 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to residents' property taxes.

The only time residents would have to return to the polls to vote on this matter again would be if the library chose to raise the tax levy, explained library Director Rose Bernard, who added that she did not foresee another vote in the near future.

"We will be good for quite a few years," Bernard said.

The state Education Department has long encouraged libraries to secure solid funding to ensure their futures, and Bernard said the NIOGA library system, which oversees libraries in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, was particularly supportive. So were the more than 800 voters who turned out for the May 15 vote, which was included as a proposition on the Royalton-Hartland School District ballot.

The Royalton-Hartland School Board voted, 5-2, in March to place a repeal proposition on the ballot for the May 15 referendum, which also included the 2012-13 school budget and slate of School Board candidates.

Last year, the district accepted the library's request for a vote on the permanent tax levy -- resulting in a 176-12 vote in favor of the tax -- but 200 residents later petitioned the School Board for a repeal vote. They cited a number of reasons, including the fact that the vote was not placed on last year's school referendum, but took place at the library three weeks later on paper ballot.

Last month's repeal referendum resulted in 840 backing the new tax and 401 voting against it.

"I was really pleased," Bernard said. "This was one of the largest school budget votes we've ever had."

Supporters also turned out in droves last weekend for one of the library's two annual book sales, claiming gently used books, puzzles and games.

Look for the next big sale on Labor Day. Bernard said the Friends of the Library appreciate donations to bulk up the depleted supply left from their successful sale last week.

"I am putting a plea out for books, but not old encyclopedias, Reader's Digest condensed versions or textbooks; they don't sell," she said.

"People enjoy these book sales, and we have them on Memorial Day weekend and on Labor Day because people are in town for the parades," she said.

The library, at 9 Vernon St., has new hours along with its new name, and they should be easier to remember because they will no longer change with the seasons. The library is now open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, closed on Friday and Sunday, and open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The new website is www.RoyHartCommunityLibrary.com.

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com